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Federal Judge Overturns White House Ban On Transgender Servicemembers

Just like the White House’s travel bans, President Trump’s July decision to reverse the Obama-era policy allowing transgender individuals to serve openly in the military has been struck down by a federal judge who said several transgender plaintiffs suing over the ban are likely to win in court.

The Associated Press reported that U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, a Washington DC federal judge, has ruled Monday that Trump's directive changing the military’s policy on transgender service members back to what it was before June 2016 and banning new transgender recruits from enlisting cannot be enforced while the case is being reviewed in court. However, the ruling contained one silver lining: The judge declined to overturn the administration’s ban on military funds paying for gender reassignment surgery.

Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly

The ruling comes after Trump backpeddled on his initial declaration - which he said in a tweet was made to conserve medical costs - and asked Defense Secretary James Mattis to supervise a study to determine exactly what the military’s policy on transgender service members should be. In a preliminary finding, Mattis said the 15,000 trans service members already enlisted would be free to finish out their assignments unless the study determines that their presence would be detrimental to maintaining discipline.

As we pointed out in July, trans individuals are actually more likely to serve in the military than the rest of the population. Meanwhile, the military is the largest employer of trans individuals in the US. It’s unclear how the judge’s decision will affect the Pentagon’s review of trans servicemembers.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders referred questions about the ruling to the Department of Defense.